It's not often you get much reaction from the audience in a UK cinema. Okay, so you might get the odd laugh at something funny, or the odd squeak at a sudden surprise...but rarely do you get a full-on, in-the-moment reaction. There is one film, however, that I clearly remember breaking that rule: Aliens.
Aliens is the sequel to the sci-fi shocker Alien. In that first film, the crew of a spaceship respond to a distress signal and go down onto a planet to the site of a crashed spaceship. Without giving too much away, one of the crew gets...infected, shall we say, with an alien being that rapidly wipes everyone out except for Ripley, played by Sigourney Weavers. The film ends with Ripley defeating the xenomorph and putting herself into cold sleep whilst her ship sails on to its destination.
Aliens begins with Ripley's ship being found drifting in space, way off course. Ripley is revived to find that she has slept for an entire generation (in the extended edition, there's a sub-plot about her now-grown-up daughter). No-one will believe her story of a lethal, crew-killing alien, so she is forced to spend her days as a lowly, exo-skeleton-wearing cargo loader.
Then she receives a visitor - the slimy company man, Burke. A distant colony reported finding something similar to what Ripley and her crew discovered, but has now dropped out of all communication. A team of Marines (hence the strapline Aliens: this time it's war!) is being sent to investigate, would Ripley like to go along too as an advisor.
Ripley would not, but eventually agrees to go, and the film now turns into an absolutely cracking "elite force into danger" movie.
The Marines are introduced (they are v. cool), they go down onto the planet, they investigate, and then all hell breaks loose as hordes of aliens attack.
To cut a long story short, during the investigation, Ripley and the Marines find a young girl, Newt, sole survivor of the colonists. Ripley and her bond. All sorts of action takes place (just watch the movie: it's cracking) and eventually just Ripley and Newt return to the Marines' ship in orbit.
Unbeknownst to them, however, the alien Queen has also got on board and, to put it mildly, she is not a happy bunny.
Newt flees under the deck plating, Ripley disappears off screen.
The alien Queen starts ripping up the deck plating, she corners Newt and reaches out for her when...
When I saw this in one of the big Leicester Square cinemas, almost the entire audience literally leapt to their feet to cheer Ripley on. That's why this is Great Movie Scenes #004.
Vis Lardica is a website devoted to wargaming and military history, with a special emphasis on the company-sized rulesets produced by the TooFatLardies: I Ain't Been Shot Mum (WW2); Charlie Don't Surf (Vietnam); and Quadrant 13 (science fiction)
Welcome to Vis Lardica, a not-for-profit website mostly dedicated to the company-sized wargaming rules produced by the TooFatLardies, but encompassing my other gaming interests as well.